18th Dec2018

WWE Raw – Dec 17th 2018: Results & Review

by Phil Wheat

2018-raw-logo

Well tonight’s the night, the “fresh start” for WWE following the risible ratings of the past few weeks and the disdain the fans have for the current WWE product. Will Mr. McMahon’s appearance tonight really turn things around? Read on to find out!

Match #1: Kurt Angle, Apollo Crews & Raw Tag Team Champions Chad Gable & Bobby Roode def. Baron Corbin (No Disqualification Handicap Match)

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

Never let it be said the McMahon family isn’t a sporting clan. Despite the WWE Universe’s overwhelming desire to see Baron Corbin hit the bricks, WWE’s first family gave The Lone Wolf one final chance to win the permanent Raw General Manager gig … provided he won his way back to the position. To put it lightly, it did not go well. While Corbin certainly held his own against his originally announced opponent, Kurt Angle, Triple H turned the tables (and gave Corbin a taste of his own medicine) by reconfiguring the bout into a Handicap Match on the spot. Suddenly, Corbin had to deal with Apollo Crews, Bobby Roode and Chad Gable as well, all of whom joined in on a beatdown that special guest referee Heath Slater conveniently missed out on, given a sudden preoccupation with the security of the turnbuckles.

He needn’t have bothered with the pretense. Shane McMahon emerged to add a No Disqualification wrinkle to the match, and all four Superstars — and Slater — gleefully pummeled The Lone Wolf with chairs and finishing maneuvers, culminating with an Angle Slam from The Olympic Hero for the 1-2-3. The fans even managed to get in on the action as well — their chants of “we want tables” were rewarded when Crews, Roode and Gable broke out the pine and Angle drove Corbin through it, giving the people exactly what they wanted.

My Take: I loved this last night and I loved it again tonight. The mauling of Baron Corbin by this handful of WWE superstars has been some of the most fun I’ve had with WWE programming in ages – after all, we all like to see the villain get his comeuppance right?!?

Match #2: Finn Bálor def. Dolph Ziggler via Disqualification

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

Raw may be getting a fresh start, but Drew McIntyre isn’t about to let go of his unfinished business. The Scottish Psychopath came calling in savage fashion, disrupting the match between Finn Bálor (who defeated McIntyre at WWE TLC) and Dolph Ziggler (who helped make it happen), bringing the thrilling bout to an abrupt disqualification in favor of the Irish dynamo. That Ziggler and Bálor briefly joined forces to thwart the Scotsman’s interference made little difference; after McIntyre bulldozed Bálor to instigate the DQ, he handily dismantled both Superstars with Claymore Kicks and made his exit. The WWE Universe wasn’t thrilled at the lack of a clear victor in the match, nor with McIntyre’s actions in general, but that should come as no surprise: If one thing has been made abundantly apparent, it’s that Drew McIntyre does not want or need anybody’s admiration.

My Take: These two guys put on a great display of wrestling but there was something missing… A spark of excitement. The moves were there, the back and forth was great; and for a second – as Finn Balor flew out of the ring to take out Drew McIntyre – the match got exciting. But for the most part this was surprisingly dull.

Match #3: Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose def. Tyler Breeze (Open Challenge)

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

Tyler Breeze is carving himself out a nice little niche as an Open Challenge opportunist. One week after challenging Ricochet for the NXT North American Championship, Prince Pretty tried his hand at Dean Ambrose’s Intercontinental Title in a match that re-established The Gorgeous One as more than a pretty face and gave a glimpse at where Ambrose will take his rivalry with Seth Rollins next.

The new champion had first demanded The Kingslayer acknowledge that Ambrose correctly predicted his collapse at WWE TLC. When that failed, Dean tried to lure Rollins to the ring with a non-title open challenge, then finally opted to put the title on the line if anyone other than Rollins stepped up. That brought out Breeze, who came within seconds of the championship after a trifecta of the Beauty Shot, a top-rope cross body and the Supermodel Kick. His attempt at the Unprettier was less successful, as Ambrose countered the maneuver into Dirty Deeds to earn the victory. Of course, the champion really wanted Rollins, and he made a point of taking his rival to task for failing to show up. But it turned out Rollins had been there all along, in disguise as one of Ambrose’s masked SWAT heavies. Right as Ambrose’s aggression reached a fever pitch, The Kingslayer made his move from behind, jumping Ambrose, reigning down haymakers on his former Shield brother and dismantling his team, forcing Dean into retreat.

My Take: Tyler Breeze got a great chance here to show off what he can really do when not in a comedy tag team (as he did on NXT last week). A good, but not great match with an unsurprising “twist” ending.

Match #4: The Revival def. The Lucha House Party, AOP and The B-Team to earn a Raw Tag Team Championship Match against Bobby Roode & Chad Gable

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

Among the first of the McMahon family initiatives running Raw is the elimination of automatic rematches for deposed champions (that’s a Shane call). Bad news for AOP, but good news for The Revival, who once again brought themselves to the brink of Raw Tag Team gold by winning a Fatal 4-Way that included two former title-holding tandems and their own personal boogeymen, The Lucha House Party. Of course, with the termination of Lucha House Rules (again per the McMahon family), the match was much more in Dash & Dawson’s wheelhouse, especially after Scott Dawson managed to be one of the last men standing in a brawl that encompassed the House Party, AOP and one half of The B-Team. Bo Dallas wisely attempted to put Dawson away quickly with a series of small package attempts, but The Revival went back to the strategy that made them two-time NXT Tag Team Champions: Sneaky tag, Shatter Machine, 1-2-3.

My Take: This was a decent match (hey, at least it wasn’t another p*ss-fest with Drake Maverick). There were some botched moves and the usual fatal four-way chaos prevailed but all in all this was a good #1 contender match with some great high spots. And I’m damn glad The Revival got the win!

Match #5: Natalya won a Gauntlet Match to earn a Raw Women’s Championship Match against Ronda Rousey

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

Given that there were no shortage of takers and Stephanie McMahon was “done playing favorites,” Ronda Rousey’s next challenger was determined by an Eight-Woman Gauntlet Match that was dominated in the early stretch by Bayley, who defeated a canny Alicia Fox and a house-on-fire Dana Brooke to start the bout. An attack on The Huggable One’s knee from Brooke left her ripe pickings for Mickie James, who eliminated Bayley, though the six-time Women’s Champion was sent packing moments later by an Eclipse from Ember Moon. Natalya entered the match fifth and ripped off a trifecta of unanswered victories, rolling up Moon and Ruby Riott to bring it down to the wire against Sasha Banks. The Boss capitalized on Natalya’s wear-and-tear to lock in the Bank Statement, but The Queen of Harts powered out of the hold, and Banks’ second attempt to apply it came up empty. Natalya’s Sharpshooter, however, hit its mark, and The Boss submitted to send The Queen of Harts to a make-or-break title match against Rousey.

Speaking of which, the champion came out to the ring to embrace Natalya and shake her hand. She came to Raw wanting a fight. On Christmas Eve, she’ll get her wish. And as a competitor like Rousey should know, nobody fights you quite like your friends.

My Take: A brilliant showing for the Raw women’s roster – almost an hour of womens wrestling on a three-hour Raw! And given her performance during TLC it seemed only fair that Natalya gets to have a go at the Raw Women’s Championship – she won’t win but I’m looking forward to the match regardless.

News of the Night:

  1. Mr. McMahon announced the entire McMahon family would take control of Raw and SmackDown LIVE.
  2. EC3, Lars Sullivan, Lacey Evans, Nikki Cross and Heavy Machinery announced as coming to the main roster “soon”.
  3. Elias smashed a guitar over Bobby Lashley’s back in payback for his TLC beatdown.
  4. A Sami Zyan promo aired announcing his return from injury.
  5. During the main event a promo aired for Kevin Owens’ return.

Final Verdict: 3/5

Despite being more about what was being said about “a fresh start” rather than actually being said fresh start, this episode of Raw was – for me – a step up in quality from recent weeks. Plus you’ve got to hand it to the women for putting on one hell on a main event! One great match, two good matches, and two good matches that suffered from a lack of excitement made for a mildly above-average Raw this week.

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